August, 2018

One of the great advantages of living in a big city is that there are always entertainment options to choose from, even during the dog days of summer. Toronto theatregoers have had a variety of dance and theatre offerings, both indoor and out, available to them this summer. And while some major organizations took time off from performing during the summer to gear up for the 2018/19 season beginning in the fall, the Mirvish theatres featured the return to Toronto of favourite mega-musicals Phantom of the Opera and Wicked, along with a revival of the 1951 Rodgers & Hammerstein classic The King and I. (Which is your favourite musical inspired by a book, as the three above-noted were? Take our poll here.)

Summer is also, of course, a great time to get out of town and enjoy the live theatre available throughout Ontario, often in beautiful, historic theatres. We are lucky to have so many options.

North of Toronto, the Gravenhurst Opera House is credited with being the birthplace of summer theatre in Canada. It officially opened in 1901 and this year, it presents its 84th season of summer theatre through September. Down the highway the Orillia Opera House, known for its fine acoustics, presents its summer theatre program through August.

East of the city, the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque features a variety of stage offerings in two theatres, as well as Tuesday Q&A sessions after the show and Wednesday Dock Talks to meet the artists at a pre-show chat before the matinee performance. Several shows play into September and this season’s final show, Shirley Valentine, runs through October 14.

The Cameco Capital Arts Centre in Port Hope also houses two theatres, including the atmospheric Capital, and presents live theatre, concerts, and more. From mid-August through early September it is featuring Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

West of the city, visiting the Stratford Festival makes for a lovely day trip. Along with several of Shakespeare’s plays, the festival offers musicals, dramas and comedies; there’s something for everyone. The Festival runs into early November.

Likewise, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s historic Old Town is a pleasant place to stroll before taking in a show at the Shaw Festival. The 2018 Festival has featured 14 productions on three stages since May.

The Lighthouse Festival Theatre in Port Dover, on the shores of Lake Erie, mounted several productions this summer and continues through September with Educating Rita. It shares the productions with its sister theatre, the Showboat, in Port Colborne.

Drayton Entertainment is one of Canada’s most successful professional theatre companies and the recipient of six Lieutenant Governor’s Awards. It has presented comedies, musicals and even pantomime at seven venues in five communities, from Grand Bend to Penetanguishene, this summer.

Did you make it out of the city to see a great show this summer? (There’s still time if you haven’t!) Let everyone know what you thought of the show, and the theatre, in the comments below.

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